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Officer's suspension increased to 5 days

By JONATHAN ABEL
Published February 8, 2007


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BROOKSVILLE - A Brooks-ville police officer is facing a five-day suspension after putting a gun in his mouth, a gesture he said was to show his exasperation with the political problems in the city.

In the last few weeks, the Brooksville Police Department has been at the center of a nasty feud, which led to the city manager's termination and the suspensions of police Chief Ed Tincher, police Lt. Rick Hankins and human resources director Ron Baker.

On Jan. 8, the day that the City Council issued those suspensions, Officer John Cavanna was outside the police station with another Brooksville officer talking about the problems in the city, when he put his gun in his mouth to express his frustration with the situation.

The other officer reported it to his supervisor.

Cavanna was initially given a one-day suspension by Sgt. Duke Maeder, the officer in charge of the department while Tincher and Hankins were on paid leave.

But on Tuesday, acting City Manager Steve Baumgartner decided to increase that suspension to five days and to require five counseling sessions for Cavanna.

"It is my opinion," Baumgartner wrote, "that this is a much more serious event than Sergeant Maeder had suggested."

Cavanna wrote on his disciplinary report that he was "not serious" and "just kidding around in bad taste."

The 21-year-old officer, who started with the department in June 2005, is described as "hard-charging" and "aggressive" by Tincher.

In addition, Tincher said that there are a number of officers in the department who are eager to report Cavanna every time he makes a mistake.

He has had one car accident that was his fault and one verbal reprimand for responding to a call with his fiance, a Brooksville firefighter, in the car, Tincher said.

They were going to a report of an unlocked door at the woman's mother's business.

"I don't think there was any intention other than it was just his way of kind of making a political statement, just a statement of how fed up everybody is with what's been going on," Tincher said of the gun incident.

"The crime he's most guilty of is that he respects and supports me."

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or 352 754-6114.

[Last modified February 8, 2007, 06:45:15]


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